HP’s Support of OpenStack Affirms Open Source, Inter-Operable Cloud Solutions

HP became the latest technology behemoth to support OpenStack, joining company with the likes of AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix on July 27. Emil Sayegh, HP’s VP of Cloud Services, announced Hewlett Packard’s support for OpenStack in a blog post featuring the following highlights:

• Recognition of the importance of open source, inter-operable solutions for the cloud computing industry
• Active participation in the OpenStack community
• Sponsorship of the OpenStack Design Summit and OpenStack Conference in October 2011.
• Belief that collaboration with OpenStack marks an “opportunity to enable customers, partners and developers with unique infrastructure and development solutions across public, private and hybrid cloud environments.”

The last bullet point indicates that HP is likely to deliver hardware that comes pre-loaded with OpenStack software that can support customers seeking to build public, private and hybrid cloud computing deployments. HP’s affirmation of OpenStack arrived in conjunction with analogous but different affirmations from Nebula and Dell. Nebula announced its intent to launch an appliance pre-loaded with OpenStack software while Dell revealed details of an OpenStack Cloud Solution that enables customers to quickly deploy OpenStack based cloud solutions using a combination of hardware, software and professional services. OpenStack can now claim support from over 90 companies and more than 1200 contributors.

Chris Kemp Announces Launch of Nebula And OpenStack Based Hardware Appliance

On July 27 at OSCON, the Open Source Convention in Portland, Oregon, former NASA CTO Chris Kemp announced details of Nebula, the startup that he launched in Palo Alto with the help of co-founders Devin Carlen and Steve O’Hara. Carlen, Nebula’s Vice President of Engineering, was formerly CTO of Anso Labs while O’Hara, Vice President of Business Development, is the founder of Prime Networks, OnFiber, and CoreLogic.

Nebula provides enterprise customers with a hardware appliance that enables rapid deployment of a private cloud environment using standardized hardware specifications. The appliance comes loaded with OpenStack software. On the hardware side, each appliance has a 10 GB switch with 48 ports that allow connections to 24 two rack (U) servers. Kemp elaborated on the features of Nebula’s appliance as follows:

Our little box has a 10 gigabit ethernet switch built into it. You can plug cheap commodity servers into the rack. You don’t have to turn them on. It will do that. The interface is like Amazon Services. These servers act as monitors by this appliance, including log files and flow data. What we do is create interface points to all of the common CMDB [Configuration Management Database] tools, managing tools, security tools, like ArcSight or Splunk.

In addition to OpenStack, the appliance comes loaded with security, management and networking functionality that allows it to integrate seamlessly with the requirements of an enterprise IT infrastructure. Users could well decide to connect multiple appliances together to obtain more storage capacity. Nebula’s appliance is intended to support Dell Series C servers as well as servers compatible with the Facebook Open Compute project. Intended for release in Q4 of 2011, the appliance is expected to democratize cloud computing by “allowing businesses to easily, securely and inexpensively deploy large private cloud computing infrastructures from thousands of inexpensive computers with minimal effort,” according to Nebula’s press release.

OpenStack’s First Birthday: A Year in Review

OpenStack, the open source cloud computing project initiated by NASA and Rackspace, celebrated its first birthday on July 19. OpenStack’s open source code enables customers to create public or private cloud environments that deliver functionality analogous to that provided by private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Joyent or Verizon Terremark. The OpenStack project began with the support of 25 companies but has grown significantly over the last year to the point where it now claims the backing of 80 companies that collectively offer financial and technical support to a staff of 217 developers. Current contributors include AMD, Canonical, Cisco, Dell, Intel and Citrix and start-ups such as Piston Cloud Computing and Nephoscale.

OpenStack’s offering currently contains three components: (1) OpenStack Compute, which allows customers to create and manage a hypervisor agnostic cloud computing platform featuring a network of virtual machines; (2) OpenStack Object Storage, for storing petabytes of data; and (3) OpenStack Image Service, to take, store and provide copies of virtual running machines. The core of OpenStack’s offering, OpenStack Compute, allows customers to create an IaaS cloud environment using code that has been maintained under an Apache license.

Key OpenStack milestones during the last year include the following:

• March 30, 2011: Rackspace, Dell and Equinix announce plans to launch an OpenStack demo environment intended to entice customers to investigate OpenStack’s cloud computing products.
• May 10, 2011: Canonical’s decision that the 11.10 version of its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud would be based on OpenStack instead of Eucalyptus.
• May 25, 2011: Citrix reveals plans to deploy Project Olympus, the first commercialized version of OpenStack.
• July 12, 2011: Citrix acquires Cloud.com, and promises to build APIs between Cloud.com’s CloudStack platform and OpenStack.

Dubbed the Android of the cloud computing market, OpenStack promises to radically transform the cloud computing landscape by shifting market share from private cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services and Verizon Terremark to an open source cloud operating system. The first year witnessed explosive development of OpenStack’s code, including three code releases named Austin, Bexar and Cactus, respectively. The fourth release, Diablo, is scheduled for distribution on September 22, 2011. OpenStack’s first year also witnessed notable deployments by Internap, Korea Telecom and Piston Cloud Computing.

In its second year, OpenStack aims to build upon its development progress by inaugurating more deployments in addition to rolling out new functionality such as networking support and identity management. If OpenStack continues to grow at a rate that comes anything close to what it displayed in its first year, expect it to leave an even larger footprint in the cloud computing space by the time of its second birthday in July 2012.

Citrix Systems Boosts OpenStack With Cloud.com Acquisition

On July 12, Citrix Systems announced its acquisition of Cloud.com, the open source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing platform that enables enterprises to create private or public cloud environments. Although the terms of the acquisition were not widely revealed, TechCrunch reports that Citrix Systems agreed to purchase Cloud.com for somewhere between $200 and $250 million. Citrix’s acquisition of Cloud.com comes less than two months after disclosure of its plans to commercialize OpenStack with Project Olympus, a product that allows customers to create IaaS cloud environments that leverage the OpenStack operating system code. The addition of Cloud.com’s CloudStack platform to Citrix’s product line means that Citrix can now claim ownership of XenServer hypervisor, XenApp, XenDesktop, Netscaler cloud networking products and the forthcoming Project Olympus. The acquisition of Cloud.com is expected to bolster OpenStack’s position in the cloud computing space because Citrix now promises to promote OpenStack utilization through the three pronged channel of Project Olympus, CloudStack APIs for OpenStack and its corporate support of OpenStack as an open source solution in contrast to a vendor such as Eucalyptus.

As a result of the acquisition, all Cloud.com employees will become part of Citrix. Cloud.com will henceforth be branded as Citrix CloudStack and belong to Citrix’s new Cloud Platforms Group. The acquisition gives Citrix a cluster of high profile customers such as Zynga Inc., GoDaddy.com, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Nokia Oyj and South Korean telecommunications company KT Corp that used Cloud.com to create internal cloud infrastructures. A June 17, 2011 GigaOm post by Derrick Harris notes that Zynga used Cloud.com to create its internal Z Cloud alongside RightScale as a tool to manage the union of its Amazon EC2 public cloud and Z Cloud.

OpenStack’s Fortunes Continue to Soar with Citrix System’s Project Olympus

Citrix System’s May 25 announcement that it intends to use OpenStack, the open source cloud computing infrastructure, as the basis for a new product called Project Olympus underscores how the open source tide is steadily shifting OpenStack’s way. Project Olympus allows customers to create IaaS clouds that leverage the OpenStack operating system code to create public or private clouds. The Project Olympus product contains two components: (1) a version of OpenStack certified by Citrix; and (2) a Citrix XenServer hypervisor optimized for the cloud. Although the product is designed for the XenServer hypervisor, Project Olympus supports the VMware vSphere and the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors as well. Customers requiring deployment using other hypervisors will need to use OpenStack. According to Citrix’s press release, the product will begin shipping later this year at a date yet to be specified.

Project Olympus marks the first commercialization of OpenStack in a move that reveals how open source cloud computing is never really open source. Eucalyptus, for example, provides open source APIs for Amazon EC2 that enable customers to migrate data between AWS and Eucalyptus cloud environments. That said, Eucalyptus deploys commercial code for its Eucalyptus Enterprise Edition (E3) features for management, SAN integration and VMWare compatibility purposes. Because OpenStack has yet to deploy this management functionality, we expect Citrix will compensate for this gap in OpenStack’s functionality in its Project Olympus product offering.

Earlier this year, Canonical’s decision to change the cloud computing provider for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud offering from Eucalyptus to OpenStack marked a significant affirmation for OpenStack. Version 11.04 of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud currently uses Eucalyptus but the upcoming version 11.10 will make use of the OpenStack cloud computing architecture created by Rackspace and NASA in the summer of 2010. Version 11.10 is expected to be released in October 2011. The bottom line is that OpenStack’s fortunes are soaring even though Red Hat, which has recently released an open source cloud computing product called CloudForms, announced its revenues intend to cross the $1 billion mark in the upcoming fiscal year.

Top 3 Cloud Computing Market Trends for 2011

2011 has been an extraordinary year for cloud computing so far. Amazon Web Services (AWS) set the pace with an aggressive roll-out of products such as Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, Amazon Cloud Player and Amazon Cloud Drive. Just when AWS seemed poised to consolidate its first mover advantage with respect to cloud computing market share, the landscape exploded with a veritable feast of product offerings, business partnerships and acquisitions. Every month another Fortune 500 IT or telecommunications company throws its hat into the cloud computing ring: Dell’s vStart, Dell’s recent partnership with SAP, IBM’s SmartCloud, Apple’s iCloud and HP’s BladeSystem Matrix mark just some of the big names and brands that have entered the cloud computing dohyo, or sumo circle. The cast of new actors has rendered the cloud computing space painfully difficult for analysts to quantify for the purpose of understanding relative market share and growth within the industry. But within this bewildering sea of change, three industry trends have emerged that deserve attention:

1. Outages across the industry signal demand outweighs supply
Demand for cloud computing services has begun to outstrip supply to the point where vendor processes for guaranteeing system uptime have become increasingly challenged. The Amazon Web Services outage of 2011 was the most glaring example of a lack of effective, scalable processes for one of the world’s premier IaaS vendors, but 2011 has witnessed notable outages specific to Sony PlayStation, Twitter, Gmail and Google’s Blogger as well. Expect more outages and service disruptions until the industry fathoms the time to develop processes for delivering on 99.99% SLAs as opposed to merely promising them.

2. Early Consolidation vs. the Proliferation of New Entrants to the Market
The past five months have witnessed Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark, Time Warner Cable’s acquisition of NaviSite, CenturyLink’s acquisition of Savvis and rife speculation that Rackspace lies next on the totem pole of potential buyouts. In tandem with the finalization of these acquistions, a slew of other companies such as Appistry, CA Technologies, Engine Yard, Flexiant, GigaSpaces, RightScale and ThinkGrid have emerged on the landscape and promise to collectively cobble together a non-trivial slice of the market while potentially transforming into significant niche players themselves. Expect new entrants on the scene, particularly in the open source space that will increasingly complicate the IaaS market share dominance of AWS, Eucalyptus, Rackspace, GoGrid and Joyent. Consolidations will continue but the market is unlikely to congeal into a few dominant players for quite some time.

3. The Rise of Open Source Cloud Computing Solutions
Rackspace, Dell and Equinux’s launch of a demonstration environment of OpenStack promises to change the industry by enticing customers to consider toying with its open source platform for free while paying for consultative support services associated with cloud design and management. Meanwhile, Canonical’s decision to change the cloud computing provider for its Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) offering from Eucalyptus to OpenStack testifies to the strength of OpenStack and conversely, underscores Eucalyptus’s challenge in defining its value proposition as an Amazon EC2 compatible open source IaaS platform. RedHat’s open source PaaS product called OpenShift marks another leading contender in the open source ring by virtue of its deployment flexibility across the Java, Python, PHP and Ruby environments. Expect that open source IaaS and PaaS offerings will become increasingly robust and scalable. If open source solutions can demonstrate reliable, high quality portability across platforms, the market for less portable, private sector IaaS and PaaS solutions is likely to shrink dramatically. The fortunes of OpenStack, OpenShift and the recently formed Open Virtualization Alliance merit a close watch, in particular.